Decisions 12 March 2007

Monday 12 March 2007 at 5pm in Speaker's House

Present:

The Speaker, in the Chair
Sir Stuart Bell
Nick Harvey
Leader of the House
Mrs Theresa May

1. COMMUNICATIONS ALLOWANCE AND HOUSE STATIONERY

The Committee agreed that websites funded from parliamentary allowances, whether the existing Incidental Expenses Provision or the proposed Communications Allowance, should only be used for parliamentary purposes and comply with the same rules on the content of material as applied to other publications funded from allowances; that they should contain a statement that they were funded from parliamentary allowances and that any complaints about content should be made initially to the Director of Finance and Administration; that links to other sites should make clear that the reader was leaving the parliamentary-funded website; that claims for reimbursement of expenditure on websites should be accompanied by a hard copy of the Member's homepage; and that the Department of Finance and Administration be instructed to conduct random checks on websites and to report to the Committee from time to time.

The draft rules for the operation of the Communications Allowance and new arrangements for administering the pre-paid envelopes and other House stationery (within the limit of £7,000 per member per year with effect from 1 April 2007) were agreed, subject to review in the light of the forthcoming debate and experience of the operation of the allowance.

The Committee agreed the draft report on the Communications Allowance without amendment.

2. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

The Commission took note of an oral report from the Director of Finance and Administration on current cases and agreed to seek further legal advice.

3. PAY REMIT

The Commission agreed the pay remit for staff of the House staff in Bands A to E and to follow the recommendations of the SSRB for staff in the Senior Commons Service.

4. SMOKING POLICY

The Commission discussed the policy on smoking.

5. ACCOMMODATION STRATEGY

The Commission agreed:

  • that space standards of 12.5m2 for Members and Heads of Department and 7.5m2 for all other occupants (unless specific tasks demand otherwise) should be applied as opportunities allow.

  • that the Board of Management should seek to identify additional office accommodation in the immediate area of the Estate to directly or indirectly provide suitable decant accommodation for Members' and their staff and, if agreed by the House, provide additional space for education facilities.

  • that sufficient leased accommodation in Westminster should be secured to meet anticipated medium-term business needs.

  • that substandard offices should be improved in 2008/09 and options for better use of ministerial offices examined.

6. VISITOR RECEPTION BUILDING

The Commission took note of a report on recent developments and requested a further report at its next meeting.

7. TEBBIT REVIEW

The Commission agreed to:

  • provide a framework for implementing a re-organisation of the Estate and Works Services areas along the lines proposed in the emerging findings of the Tebbit review; and

  • authorise the Board of Management to put in hand the necessary work for more detailed implementation, ahead of the completion of the full Tebbit Review.

8. CONTINGENCY PLANNING

The Commission took note of progress in contingency planning and agreed to expenditure on a part-time outside expert and a small in-house team to carry forward this work.